Sympathy Messages: What to Say When Someone Dies
If you know someone who is grieving, trying to figure out what you should say can be confusing. Dealing with other people’s emotions is hard, and knowing what to say when someone dies isn’t easy, especially when you worry about saying the wrong thing. A good way to break the ice is to send written condolences. You have the opportunity to think carefully about what you want to say and describe your feelings better.
Things to say when someone dies
There are times when you don’t get a chance to think about what you want to say. You might be given the news of someone’s death in a conversation or over the telephone. Finding the right words to say right there and then can be perplexing.
It’s not possible to put yourself in the bereaved person’s shoes and understand what they are going through. However, we all know that it’s much better to say something than say nothing at all. Whatever words you choose won’t take away the pain they might be feeling, but they will go a long way toward helping them feel your love and support.
Choosing words of sympathy is not something to take lightly. The best advice is to say something simple, show empathy, and speak from the heart. Here are some examples:
- I don’t know what to say, but this must be very hard for you.
- I’m so sorry to hear that Peter has died.
- You are in my thoughts and prayers.
- We will all miss Gloria; she touched so many of our lives.
- Our love and support will always be here for you.
What to write in a sympathy card
Writing a sympathy card can be an emotional experience. It’s a challenge to find the right words to offer comfort, empathy, and support. You should be open with your condolences and sincere. It’s also important to be more personal, thoughtful, honest, and mindful with your words of sympathy.
If you’re looking for the right sympathy messages or what to write in a sympathy card, we’ve put together an extensive selection, so you’ve got some ideas and inspiration.
Sympathy messages for the loss of a father
The death of a parent is always going to be a significant loss, no matter how old you are, how close or complicated the relationship is. Special words of comfort are required for a father because they are often a person to look up to, lean on, and go to for advice. It can be tough for someone to lose such a strong anchoring presence in their life. When writing sympathy messages, try to recall pleasant memories or retell a story. By doing this, you’re remembering how they lived rather than dwelling on their death.
Here are some ideas of what to say in sympathy cards.
- Your father was an extremely caring and kind man. I know that no matter where you are, he will always be watching over you.
- A father’s guiding hand always sits on the shoulder of his children.
- He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.
- What a wonderful relationship you had, bringing each other such joy.
- I will never forget the way your father smiled and the way he loved you with every piece of his heart.
Words of sympathy for the loss of a mother
The bond between mother and child is unparalleled. A mother’s love is unconditional. Not only are they a shoulder to cry on, but they are also an infinite wealth of advice. It can be of great comfort to hear how much you admired and cared for the grieving person’s mother. Use your words of condolence to extend your caring thoughts and admiration.
Here are some words you can use for inspiration.
- There is no one in this world like your mother. She was a special woman, and she will be with you always.
- My deepest condolences to you and your family during this time. Your mother was an amazing woman, and she will truly be missed.
- The bond of love between a mother and child is unbreakable. She is with us all still in love, memory, and family. Know we are here to support you all through everything that may come.
Condolence messages for the loss of a child
Losing a child is unimaginable for most of us. Finding the proper condolences for this particular loss is a huge challenge. No words can mend the bereaved parents’ broken hearts, but your words can offer support when they need it most.
Here are a few ways you can do that.
- While there are no words to express our sorrow, we are sending you love and prayers to sustain you during this dark time.
- Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
- The love and joy that your child brought to the world will never be forgotten. We are thinking of you and your family during this tragic time.
Sympathy card for the loss of a husband or wife
Losing a spouse is one of the most painful events an individual can experience. It’s not something a person can ever be ready for and can leave the survivor feeling lost and alone. Writing a sympathy card to someone who has lost their spouse is your chance to let them know you are there for them.
Here are some examples of ways you can say in sympathy.
- I cannot fully express the sorrow I feel for you at this time. I am thinking about you always, and I am just a call away.
- Nothing quite compares to the love of a spouse. I want you to know that I am thinking about you and am here for you always.
- No one can ever replace the amazing person that your spouse was. My thoughts are with you during this time.
Comforting words for the loss of a friend or colleague
It can be challenging for a person to go from seeing someone every day to not at all. They may feel a sense of confusion or instability when losing a colleague or friend. It will be comforting for them to know that you acknowledge their loss.
Here are some comforting words for the loss of a friend.
- Words, no matter how kind, can’t mend your heartache. However, those who care for you wish you comfort and peace.
- I was so sorry to hear about your friend’s passing. I hope that you know that I am here for you whenever you need it.
- The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but the memories of that friendship will endure forever.
Messages to avoid in a sympathy card
There are lots of things you can choose to write in a sympathy card, but at the same time, there are also things to avoid.
Avoid the use of harsh words such as ‘died’, ‘death’, or similar. It’s also better not to include any details from the person’s passing in the letter. Such details will only bring up unpleasant memories.
Phrases to avoid include:
- “I know how you feel” - We all experience and process grief differently.
- “He/she was so young” - Saying this can be a painful reminder.
- “Everything happens for a reason” - Thoughts such as these risk assigning blame for the death.
- “Your grief will pass” - a bereaved person should have permission to mourn
These sentiments and others like them might not be taken very well by the bereaved. If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, it’s best to keep your message of condolence short. Sending a card might seem like a simple act, but it lets the recipient know you care.
What to say in a condolences email
Of course, it’s better to send a card, but there are times when it’s not possible. You might not be able to see the bereaved in person, time may be an issue, or you might not know their address. Sometimes, sending a condolence email is the best option. It’s simple, quick, and easy to do. However, knowing what to write in a condolences email can be challenging. Should it be short or long? Is there a tone you should use?
Here are some tips that might help.
- Be personal: If you were close to the deceased, talk more personally about them. Retell a story, anecdote, or mention their best qualities.
- Offer support: Offering help is a touching gesture, and one the recipient will appreciate.
- Express your sorrow: Be clear about how much you’ll miss the departed and how sorry you are for their loss.
- Be sincere: Don’t let your email sound forced. Speak from the heart and genuinely mean what you say.
What to write in a condolence letter
A handwritten expression of sympathy acknowledges a loss and shows how much you care. A condolence card or sympathy note is often used, but there are times when you want to say more than just a few words. Write a condolence letter when you want to express your sympathy and support. It’s also appropriate when you can’t attend a funeral.
There are seven components you could use:
- Refer to the deceased by name
- Express your sympathy
- Point out something special about the deceased
- Remind your friend or family member of his or her good qualities
- Share a memory
- Offer to help
- Close with an expression of sympathy
What to write on funeral flowers
A popular way to express your condolences when someone has lost a loved one is the gifting of flowers. It’s usual for there to be a small card that comes clipped to the bouquet. Space is limited, but it is possible to say something meaningful.
Here are a few ideas for short and sweet sympathy messages for funeral flowers.
- May these flowers remind you of our thoughts and prayers.
- Our loving thoughts embrace you during this difficult time.
- Thinking of you always.
Bereavement quotes to show support
Adding a quote to a card or letter is a nice touch. It’s also a way to show support and that you’ve given some thought to getting your message right.
One of the following sympathy quotes might be suitable.
- “Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality,” Emily Dickinson.
- “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us,” Helen Keller.
- “Grief is the price we pay for love,” Queen Elizabeth II.
Popular sympathy poems
You can express sympathy in many different forms. One of the best ways to do it is through a poem or poetry. A touching or beautiful poem can help a person know that others have felt this kind of grief too, reducing the sense of emotional isolation.
Here are a few examples:
- Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Frye
- Give What’s Left of Me Away by Merrit Malloy
- If Roses Grow in Heaven by Dolores M. Garcia
Sending condolences with a song
Music is a driving force in many peoples’ lives and can also provide comfort for those experiencing a loved one’s loss. If you can sing the song or have someone who can sing the song for you, all the better. Alternatively, you can play it safe and have the music on a sound system for support.
Here are some ideas:
- Bridge over troubled water by Simon and Garfunkel
- Everybody Hurts by REM
- Goodbye my Lover by James Blunt
- Candle in the Wind by Elton John
- Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
- Unchained Melody by Righteous Brothers
Cannot put your sympathy into words?
Sending cards and leaving comments online are all well and good, but what if you can’t find the right words to express your sympathy? There are many alternative ways to offer comfort and support.
Here are some ideas of things you can do to support those who are grieving.
- Provide a listening ear - so many people are afraid to let the bereaved speak about their loss
- Share a sweet memory of the person who has passed away
- Offer to do gardening, buy groceries, or help with daily tasks
- Offer transportation or hospitality
- Sit with them and assist them in paying bills, utilities, financial papers
- Cook for them
- Take them to run errands
- Get them outside to enjoy the fresh air
What to say at the funeral
If you’re attending a funeral service, it’s appropriate to offer your sympathy to the family. A simple “I’m sorry for your loss” is fine if you don’t know them very well. However, it’s often better if you can say something about the person who has passed away. Saying something personal that kindly remembers the person and what they meant to you is very much appreciated.
Here are some examples of what to say at a funeral:
- He will be missed by everyone that knew him.
- You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
- When you’re ready, I’m here for you.
- I’m so sorry you’ve lost your Dad, he was a lovely man, and we’ll miss him very much.
All aspects of funeral etiquette can be confusing, but we’ve got you covered. If you want to make funeral plans or arrangements for a loved one, our dedicated team of professionals is here to offer guidance and support at a time when you need it the most.